Yankees, Manchester City to own New York City Major League Soccer team
Baseball's most storied franchise is adding soccer to its empire.
The Yankees are partnering with English soccer power Manchester City to own Major League Soccer's next expansion team, which will be called the New York City Football Club.
The team will kick off its first season in 2015 as the league's 20th franchise, although where it will play remains unknown until a stadium is built, possibly in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens.
The Yankees will own a minority stake in the team. The exact amount was not announced, but The Associated Press reported it would be 20 percent to 25 percent. Manchester City, owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, will be the majority owner.
Yankees president Randy Levine said the partnership is a perfect marriage between the franchises. The Yankees have worked with Manchester City in the past through the Legends Hospitality event company.
"They understand soccer," Levine said. "They know how to put championship teams together in soccer. We know New York City. We have been doing business here for a long time. We know how things work. So, we're going to help them. We know how to build championship teams. So, it's a great combination."
NYC FC will pay a $100 million expansion fee to MLS.
MLS commissioner Don Garber said it was premature to comment on any temporary venues for the club, although Levine said Yankee Stadium could host soccer games until a permanent home is built. New Yankee Stadium had its first two soccer games last summer and will have two more games this year. Manchester City and Chelsea FC will play at the Stadium on Saturday, and Spain will play Ireland on June 11.
MLS is hoping to complete plans with the city for a $340 million, 25,000-seat facility on 13 acres in Queens. But that project has run into stiff opposition over the environmental impact and the loss of parkland.
Levine said he will keep an open mind on Flushing Meadows. "There's a lot of reasons to be in Queens," he said. "We're going to take a look and see where's the best place to go. We just want to build a home base here our fans can appreciate."
The Fairness Coalition of Queens said in a statement: "We are pleased with their new willingness to consider other sites in New York. The proposal for a stadium inside the heart of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is deeply flawed and would irrevocably damage a vital community resource."
NYC FC will be the second MLS team in the market, creating a potential rivalry with the Red Bulls of Harrison, N.J. The Red Bulls are one of the 18-year-old league's original franchises and play in a 25,000-seat stadium that opened in 2010.